Organisations have both tangible and intangible assets, acquired or developed, in order to operate and compete successfully.
Tangible assets can include buildings, land, equipment, tools, vehicles, fixtures and fittings, materials and stock. Intangible assets include patents, copyrights and licenses, trademarks, brand names, goodwill, employee and customer relationships. Your assets need to be managed, maintained and protected in order to deliver maximum benefit for the organisation, now and in the future.
The benefits of actively managing assets include:
- Prolonged asset life and value to the organisation
- Leverage of finance and investment
- Reducing risk to the organisation e.g. by ensuring that assets comply with health and safety regulations
- Improved use of assets e.g. cost and efficiency savings
- Knowing when to sell or dispose of assets.
Failing to manage your assets effectively can result in their value diminishing quickly.
Developing a plan
Start by asking yourself a series of questions:
1. What do you own? It is good practice to draw up, and keep up to date, a register of all the assets your organisation owns (and controls), known as an asset register. Intangible assets can be tricky to identify and value, here are some tools to help you:
- A free IP Healthcheck online tool is available on the Intellectual Property Office website.
- Intellectual assets audit tool
2. What are your assets worth? This question helps identify the value of the assets (you’ll need this for accounting purposes too).
3. What is the condition of your assets? This question helps identify the current state of each asset so that you know how much work needs to be done and how much money should be spent. It’s common practice to use a rating system to assess the condition of each asset.
4. What are the costs of maintaining or protecting your assets? Investment will be needed to preserve the value and functionality of your assets.
5. What is the remaining service life of your assets? This question helps identify when assets will eventually need to be replaced.
6. Which are your critical assets? This will help identify priorities and inform decisions about where to allocate resources.
7. How much money do you need? This question helps you think about budgets for maintenance and repairs, depreciation costs, and helps identify any financial shortfalls.
8. What if? This question enables you to think about the impact of different decisions you take.
Working your assets
Many organisations overlook the value locked up in their assets. Are you making the most of your assets?
In the current economic climate with spending cuts and expectations rising, there is pressure to make sure that the best possible value is being obtained from your assets, whatever they may be.
Managing your assets to best effect can sometimes just involve reviewing what you have and what you do with it. It is often surprising how many benefits can be gained with a few simple alterations and changes to existing work practices.
You may find it useful to undertake a complete audit of your tangible and intangible assets and how they are being used e.g. looking at ways of getting more income from property you own, whilst minimising your outgoings. There may be environmental improvements that can be made to make buildings more energy efficient and aesthetically pleasing.
Training, support and advice on the management of community buildings and other assets are available from organisations like Locality.
This is a free guide to asset development for community and social enterprises – To have and to hold.
Community Asset Transfer
Since the Quirk Review in 2007, there has been considerable progress in the area of bringing public assets into community ownership through what is commonly known as ‘Community Asset Transfer’.
The Locality website provides a wealth of information and resources for community organisations and local authorities – to make the process of transfer more effective. Model guidance documents, factsheets, research, case studies and a host of other resources are available.